Christmas movie filmed in city gets air date

Published on Saturday, 4 November 2017 22:23
Written by Angie DeRosa

Staff Writer

BRISTOL - The Christmas movie filmed in Bristol and New Britain starring television actors Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart will premiere on Lifetime on Sunday, Nov. 26.

Lifetime announced its original Christmas movies lineup early last week. “A Very Merry Toy Store” -- previously known by the title “Christmas Hours” -- will debut at 8 p.m. on the channel.

According to Lifetime’s website, the movie is about Connie Forrester (played by Hart), a young single mom, and Will DiNova (Lopez) who each run a small, family-owned toy store in Connecticut. The two, along with their families, have been business rivals for years until a big box store “Roy’s Toy’s” opens up right before Christmas. In order to save their businesses, Connie and Will band together to save their stores, and in the process, might just find love in time for Christmas.

The film also stars Beth Broderick (“Sabrina the Teenage Witch”), Brian Dennehy (“First Blood”), Billy Gardell (“Mike & Molly”), Mario Cantone (“Sex and the City”), Dan Amboyer (“The Blacklist: Redemption”) and Tara Strong (“The Powerpuff Girls”).

“A Very Merry Toy Store” was produced by Hartbreak Films – mother and daughter due Paula and Melissa Joan Hart.

Amato’s Toy and Hobby at 283 Main St. served as the main backdrop for the movie, the interior was remodeled as two separate toy stores – Hart’s and Lopez’s.

The Bristol Public Library, the former Barley Vine gastro pub, The Super Natural Market and The Shaffer Co. were all used as sets for the movie.

The old Barley Vine and The Shaffer Company locations were chosen because of the styles and aesthetics of the buildings matched the production crew’s vision for the movie, explained Andrew Gernhard, who is producing the movie.

“We were looking for a certain look and there was a very particular vision,” Gernhard said.

Gernhard explained that the entire movie was supposed to be filmed in New Britain, but the crew was attracted by the visuals of the store fronts.

Even though the two stores are down the street from each other, Gernhard said that in the movie they will be across the street from each other.

Central Connecticut State University’s television studio was used in the filming process for its floor-to-ceiling green screen. Other locations featured in the film included City Hall, Miss Washington Diner, Vic’s Auto Body Shop and the West End home of Gaffney Elementary School’s principal, Anita Fazio.

The parking lot off of Court Street was used to host a Christmas festival in the movie, and featured Alvarium Beer Co. and members of the Little Poland community.

Mayor Erin Stewart even made her acting debut as a disgruntled toy store customer.

After production ended, the Harts donated the Hasbro toys used in the film to the Connecticut Children’s Hospital in Hartford.

Lorenzo Burgio contributed to this article.

Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Arts, Bristol, General News on Saturday, 4 November 2017 22:23. Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2017 22:25.